Here are just a few of the rules of conduct a proper female must adhere to during the late 1800s:
A single woman never addressed a gentleman without an introduction.
A single woman never walked out alone. Her chaperone had to be older and preferably married.
Proper women never rode alone in a closed carriage with a man who wasn’t a relative.
A woman would never call upon an unmarried gentleman at his place of residence.
A woman couldn’t receive a man at home if she was alone. Another family member had to be present in the room.
A gentlewoman never looked back after anyone in the street, or turned to stare at others at church, the opera, etc.
After reading that list I finally understood when gossip began to circulate about young Mary McCulloch of Watson’s Corners and she felt she had to publish this letter in the Perth Courier. I also found a similar one from her in the Almonte Gazette.
Downtown Watson’s Corners 1900– Lanark Genealogical Society
Perth Courier, October 6, 1899
To The Editor of the Perth Courier:
It has lately come to my attention that a misleading and utterly false report has been circulating about me on the 12th July last in Perth. First of all, let me say that I was not in the company of any man that day and also that I did not taste a drop of drink of any kind except a cup of tea for my dinner; and that I left Perth before 5:00 that afternoon on the Lanark stage and was at my home at Watson’s Corners before dark. If it was necessary for me to do so I could get fifty people to prove that every word of the above was strictly true. Thank you so much for your space.
Very Truly Yours,
Mary McCulloch, Watson’s Corners
I understood what single women went through, and felt so sorry for young Mary. I needed to find out more. After losing myself for hours trying to find this woman; I eventually found out that Mary B. Dunlop McCulloch was not a single woman as I thought, but was indeed married to a William McCulloch at the time. I think my stomach did a few turnovers in angst for her.
Who knew what then 24 year-old Mary was going through, or did, or didn’t do– but one thing is certain, she had to clear her name. Was it just idle gossip-or had she really had a drop she shouldn’t have? Were there really 50 people in the area that could defend her honour?
Mary ended up having one son and was buried in Highland Cemetery in MacDonald’s Corners.
Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark
Read the Almonte Gazette here.